Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bishop Allen @ Mecca, Lexington KY 10/29/06

While I was still in shock from seeing what I thought was one of independent rock's most reclusive artists, my Sunday's worth of music continued in admirable fashion. After a solid year of attempting to see Bishop Allen, Matt took his WRFL position and did some justice to the music scene in Lexington.

[MP3] The Late B.P. Helium - Lightning Never Strikes Twice (Move cover)

Before the EP savvy Bishop Allen performed, The Late B.P. Helium took stage to remind us all why we love the Elephant Six Collective. Helium started as the solo project of on-again/off-again bassist of Elf Power/Of Montreal, but has creatively blossomed into a full band. After a recent tour with Of Montreal, Bryan Poole took his brainchild on the road to rock crowds - and rock he did. I haven't seen a better opening act since I saw Beck play before Radiohead at Bonnaroo, yet somehow B.P. Helium managed to make the small crowd feel like they were witnessing some sort of musical miracle. From their Christmas light decorations, to using a drum stick as guitar slide, to their tendency to improvisationally jam out a song - B.P. Helium quickly catapulted themselves into my category of cherished live acts.

By the time everyone had cleansed their musical palates of B.P. Helium, Bishop Allen were already setting up their equipment whilst performing a soundcheck. The charming four person Brooklyn band has undergone lineup changes, making it obvious that BA is the project of Justin and Christian - a winning combination if I've ever seen one. Their "a new EP every month" mantra has given the band a huge catalogue to choose a setlist from, allowing them to venture outside the confines of their LP and play newer material. With each released EP - Bishop Allen continues to explore and expand the boundaries of their musical abilities, only getting better at their craft.

As they started to delve into their setlist, I realized that these guys have nearly every component to woo fans of indie rock worldwide. Their eclectic pop sound meets experimental rock coupled with their on-stage quirkiness and powerful live shows are an easy 1-2 punch to fans of their genre. Perhaps the acoustics of Mecca were flattering, but by the end of the night I ended up liking Justin's voice live as much as I do on CD. His vocals resonated throughout the audience as he would gaze into the crowd and make eye contact with nearly everyone. Christian stood stage left orchestrating the production with his guitar (or mandolin) - unable to stop smiling throughout their set.

Granted, I've seen a lot of shows and had been wanting to see Bishop Allen for a good while - but something about their performance really stood out. My friend in Philadelphia told me in August that they put on one of the best shows he's ever seen and now I can understand why he said that. Bishop Allen didn't jump around stage, smash their guitars, or come equipped with a spectacular light show.. They just had it. It's an unexplainable phenomena withheld by a handful of bands, when they can take the vision of their own music and perfectly project it into the audience - causing their crowd of 25 or 2,500 to become completely captivated by their music.

[MP3] Bishop Allen - Busted Heart
[MP3] Bishop Allen - The Same Fire
[MP3] Bishop Allen - Flight 180

Be sure to catch Bishop Allen on tour and click below for even more pictures from the show!


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